Gerald M. "Gerry" Harris

Firebird Navigator: 1961-1967 & 1972-75



Gerry Harris passed away on November 1, 2001, in Vancouver, Washington. After having suffered a heart attack, he was scheduled to have bypass surgery. Because of his previous health problems with diabetes, he never recovered from the surgery.

Gerry was born on January 19, 1933, in Bootle, Lancaster, England, and came to the United States when he was nineteen. He married Shirley Dorminey in Atlanta, Georgia, on August 7, 1954.

In 1955, he enlisted in the Air Force. While stationed at Lackland AFB, Gerry received the American Spirit Honor Metal - "presented to the trainee in each graduating class who, more than any of his classmates, displays the qualities we believe best express the American Spirit: honor, loyalty, and high example to comrades in arms." This was a special honor since Gerry was not yet an American Citizen. In addition to receiving this award, he was selected to be a Training Instructor.


From Lackland, Gerry went to weather school at Chanute AFB and on to Sandia Base, New Mexico. While at Sandia, his commander, a Col. Walker, recommended that he become a citizen and apply for OCS. Gerry went to OCS, Class 60-B at Lackland AFB, which was graduated on June 17, 1960. His next assignment was navigation school at Harlingen AFB.

After being graduated from navigation school in 1961, Gerry chose an assignment with the 17th Troop Carrier Squadron at Dyess AFB. He was with the "Firebirds" when the USAF moved the squadron to Elmendorf AFB, Alaska, in 1964. In 1968 he was stationed in Ubon, Thailand, with the 16th SOS flying AC-130 Gunships, "The Spectre," over Viet Nam. In 1969 he was assigned to Travis AFB as a C-141 navigator. In 1972 he returned to Elmendorf AFB as a C-124 crewmember. Gerry retired as a Major in 1975. He and Shirley moved to Vancouver, Washington, in 1979, where they presently resided.


For the last several years, Gerry had been active with the Firebird Association, the Spectre Association, and OCS Class 60-B reunions. He took great pride in working with the Air Force Museum in designing a plaque dedicated to the crews and maintenance personnel of the AC-130 Gunships. He also helped organize a dedication ceremony for the plaque, which was held at the Air Force Museum on June 19, 2000.


Gerry was interred on November 8, 2001, at the Willamette National Cemetery in Portland, Oregon, with full military honors. Gerry is survived by his wife, Shirley, of forty-eight years, his six children, seven grandchildren, and two great grandchildren.


In lieu of flowers, please make donations in Gerry's name to the National Diabetes Foundation or the American Heart Association.

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